Nov 19, 2007

Mamma Roma

Mamma Roma is an Italian film written and directed by philosopher, linguist, novelist, playwright, filmmaker, newspaper and magazine columnist, actor, painter and political figure Pier Paolo Pasolini(March 5, 1922November 2, 1975). It came out in 1962 when World War II was still fresh in the mind of Italians and other Europeans. Mamma Roma follows the lives of a middle aged prostitute and her 16 year old son. They live in a poor area of Italy surrounded with pimps, prostitutes, and thieves. Essentially its about a single mother that is doing all she can just to support herself and her son.

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Throughout the film, no one can be trusted. Mother and son truly only have each other. The son is beaten up by a gang of people that were supposed to be friends. He is also lead on and humiliated by a girl with a bad reputation. When the son finally makes friends with a group of boys, they end up being criminals that lead him into a life of theft. Eventually he is caught and imprisoned. While he’s incarcerated he becomes ill and eventually dies. His poor Mother has nothing left afterwards.

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Writer and director Pasolini was a Marxist and many of his films dealt with proletarians. Mamma Roma exposed that in Capitalist Italy the poor faced a life of alienation, unemployment, economic instability, and crime. People could barely live on a day to day basis without being the victim or victimizer of a crime.

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Pasolini mainly casted nonactors in Mamma Roma to give it a more realistic (bordering on cinéma vérité ) feel. Throughout the film the characters seemed authentic and almost documentary like. Mamma Roma is rich in a culture that is not very often exposed. Pasolini was able to give the proletarians a voice through cinema. I believe that cinema is the most effective way to get a glimpse into culture(without actually around culture) when done correctly. Pasolini was able to accomplish this due to the films realism. I’m personally against Marxism and can consider Mamma Roma among one of my favorite films. It has captured a time in history that has long past.

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Communication in Mamma Roma can be unpleasant at times. Even friends turn on you in the end. Pasolini, being a Marxist and Collectivist sees Capitalism and Individualism as being deterioration of the exploited proletarian. In a world such as this, communication can be very unpredictable. Friends are constantly lying to you while talking to them. People can turn their back on you when you least expect it. Communication in poverty stricken Italy becomes completely unreliable. When communication becomes unreliable in a society, it starts to crumble. For the Mother and Son in Mamma Roma, they lose each other and everything else.

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Pasolini was able to capture a varying types of communication. Whether it be the communication of dominance in a fight or men inquiring prostitutes, it generally resulted negatively. Pasolini had his own political views which influenced a lot of the negative types of communication in a Capitalist society. Despite the political agenda, I felt that Mamma Roma gave me a sense of a culturally rich ancient society. Very few films have impacted me. It has inspired me to watch more Italian films and a variety of films from around the world. When watching a foreign film, you feel like you are missing out on a part of the world. I at least felt that a culture was communicated to me after viewing Mamma Roma.

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-Ty E

2 comments:

Izak said...

The most telling scene, to me, in Mamma Roma is the one where she is walking down the street, and she begins telling stories about her life to one man. The story she tells is filled with despair and hostility, but as she's telling it, the man walks away and another man walks up to her and walks down the street with her, listening to part of her story out of context. This continues with many different men approaching her, listening to her pour her heart out about her life and past relationships (albeit in a very humoured and nonchallant manner), and leaving right in the middle of what she has to say. Each of them only hear small snippets and superficial quips without even understanding the real bulk of what she's even saying.

I found this scene to be the most meaningful in showing the consequence of being a woman who spreads herself out so thin, retaining unhealthy distances from any sort of emotional fidelity or intimacy in general.

Soiled Sinema said...

Agreed. I also think its the best shot in the film and I have yet to see another director do a similar one.

-Whool